Sunday, December 28, 2008

Carmen Xtravaganza

I remember where I was when I first began to hear about the NY ballroom scene. I was with one of my then homies who was trolling for adult films to rent at Bellaire News while I was perusing the out of town newspapers.

This was the early 80's BI (before Internet) when you couldn't simply fire up a computer to access an out of town paper. You had to buy it at a newsstand or go to the public library to read it, and some of those newsstands also sold adult magazines and videos.

While waiting for him to complete his rental, I was reading the Village Voice and this particular issue had an article about the NY ballroom scene. It got my undivided attention when it started talking about the femme realness category and one of the up and coming stars in that category in the 80's, Carmen Xtravaganza.

Since I was in information procuring mode about anything transgender at the time, I continued to read the article. As I recall it, people inside and outside the community were raving about her as and coming legend and I paid particular attention to the quotes from her mother about her transition.

I bought that issue and kept the article for a few years until it got lost when I moved out of my parents house.

Not long after I read about her in the Village Voice, Paris Is Burning came out and Carmen was in this scene from it.

Even though I've visited New York a few times, I was never able to time my visit so that I could attend a ball. As some of you know I have much love for the ballroom community and it's still a goal of mine to do just that to attend a ball one day.

carmen xtravaganza the princes boll 8/3/20008

Carmen is still around, looking as lovely as ever and became the mother of the House of Xtravaganza for a while. She still pops up at the balls and performs in New York from time to time.


whatsername said...

I recently saw the documentary and have been wondering if the ball culture is still going. Thanks for a follow up, I'm glad to know that Carmen is still alive and doing her thing.

Monica Roberts said...

It's alive and well and has spread beyond New York.

bloggers Clay Cane and Frank Leon Roberts document the happenings in the ballroom community on a regular basis, and I do regularly post on TransGriot interesting video of various balls when I find it.

John said...

I work for an empowerment project (Bmore Mpowerment) for sexual minority youth here in baltimore - part of our project is helping the kids to throw smaller ball events. They LOVE them and (if done correctly) balls create a great opportunity for the kids to have fun and express themselves in a safe environment.

I'll send you some pics/video of our next event if you's happening on Jan.3rd.


Monica Roberts said...

Please do so. That's the beauty of the ballroom culture. Not only do you have the historic links to the Harlem Renaissance, it can be used to empower people.

In more than a few cases some of the participants have gone from that world to getting degrees and enhanced roles is general society.

eileen said...

I have both 'Paris is Burning' and 'How Do I Look?' on DVD and let my friend borrow them. She hasn't brought them back yet and I'm mad about it, lol.

I'm also a *BIG* House Head so I love hearing stories about the Paradise Garage, The Warehouse, Continental Baths, David Mancuso's Loft parties...
Larry Lavan behind the turntables, the kids doing their thang on the dance floor *sigh*

I'm always on YouTube looking for ball videos, too. I love the culture & Carmen is indeed fierce! :-D

Anonymous said...

Legendary Carmen Xtravaganza, Mother of The Legendary House of Xtravaganza!

I Love my House!!